Observations from Saturday
December, 12, 2009
By Andy Katz | ESPN.com
A few quick hitters on Saturday’s slate:
- UCLA is officially toast. The Bruins have no shot to get in the NCAA tournament unless they win the Pac-10 tournament. Seriously, even if the Bruins were to win the Pac-10, the question will be what have they done? It’s early but it’s not too soon to announce this after the Bruins were rocked once again in the city of Anaheim, this time in a different venue (Honda Center) and by another team (Mississippi State) by double figures (72-54). The Bruins are now 0-4 in Anaheim.
- Mississippi State’s Ravern Johnson scored 29 in the convincing win for the Bulldogs. John Riek gets eligible for the Bulldogs next week to add depth to the frontcourt. No one knows if Renardo Sidney will ever play for Mississippi State. Even without him the Bulldogs should be 1-2 in some order with Ole Miss for the SEC West title.
- Saint Mary’s had a major road win, beating Oregon by five in Eugene, a day after learning guard Wayne Hunter was done for the season with a torn ACL. Hunter had started the first seven games and averaged 11.6 points a game. Omar Samhan scored 22 and, despite a love affair here with Portland and San Diego early, the Gaels look like they may be the real challenger to Gonzaga in the WCC.
- The Pac-10 continues to be dreadful out of conference as Washington lost to Georgetown in Anaheim, and the aforementioned UCLA and Oregon losses, make the league look even worse. Seriously, there is a power five this season and then the sixth-best conference will either be the A-10 or the MWC. Deal with it. The Pac-10 may be looking at a best-case scenario of two NCAA bids. And the committee may discuss expanding the tournament? To get more mediocrity in the field? No thanks.
- Georgetown’s Greg Monroe had a super week with 25 points and 15 boards in a win over Butler and then followed that up with 15 points, eight boards and six assists in the win over the Bruins. Monroe’s mate Julian Vaughn showed he can score too with a career-high 18. The Hoyas will be a contender for the Big East title.
- Kansas blew out La Salle and freshman Xavier Henry scored 31 points with four rebounds and two assists. Can you imagine what Memphis would have been like with Henry, John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Eric Bledsoe, Roburt Sallie, Willie Kemp and possibly Duke transfer Elliot Williams? It would have happened had John Calipari stayed put instead of going to Kentucky.
- Butler got a desperately needed win by holding off Ohio State by eight at home. Matt Howard fouled out again though and the Bulldogs have to find a way to stop the insanity of him getting into foul trouble.
- Ohio State played its first game without Evan Turner and was expectedly erratic. William Buford proved to be the scorer, though, with 20 points.
- George Mason beat Creighton, easily one of the more disappointing teams in the country now at 3-5. Creighton coach Dana Altman got a technical in the final 18 seconds, which didn’t help. It was Altman’s first technical since 2007.
- Portland and Pitt got much-needed wins after rough weeks of late.
- Chris Warren of Ole Miss is showing no signs of his ACL bothering him as he scored 20 against McNeese State and is averaging 17.5 on the season.
- Western Carolina, picked to win the Southern Conference with the College of Charleston, shocked Louisville 91-83 at Freedom Hall. The Cardinals can’t use the excuse of not having Preston Knowles, Jerry Smith and Peyton Siva when they didn’t have them for the loss to Charlotte. Louisville goes through early-season funks every year under Rick Pitino, but this one seems deeper and their road game on Jan. 2 in Kentucky seems awfully daunting.
- Kentucky ran away from Indiana in Bloomington, 90-73, behind Eric Bledsoe’s 23. John Wall had "only" 11 points, but had eight assists and only one turnover. Kentucky coach John Calipari said he couldn’t be more thrilled for how his players handled their first true road game. Meanwhile, Indiana may have found a big-time scorer as freshman Maurice Creek went for 31.
- Wisconsin needed a win after losing at UW Green Bay and the 72-63 victory against rival Marquette will do well for this team’s ego and confidence going forward.
- Columbia’s Noruwa Agho continues to be one of the best-kept secrets in the country as he made a pair of threes and scored 23 points in a win at Bryant. Agho is shooting over 64 percent on 3s (27 of 42) so far this season.
- The box score of the day came out of Seton Hall-VMI. The Keydets make teams play uptempo and the Pirates obliged with a 134-107 win. Jeremy Hazell scored 33 while Jamel Jackson scored 40, making 12 of 15 3-pointers. The 134 is the most points scored by the Hall in its 105-year history as was the 241-points combined. Jackson broke the Hall single-game record with 12 3s. By the way, he comes off the bench and was averaging seven points a game entering the day.
- Oklahoma finally awoke in a game against a significant opponent as Willie Warren went for 27 points in an overtime win at Utah, which had just beaten Michigan at the Huntsman Center earlier in the week.